The two first worked together on the hit thriller “Air Force One,” with Ford playing the U.S. President and Oldman the relentless Russian terrorist who hijacks his plane. In “Paranoia,” however, they would both be challenged by characters unlike any they have taken on in their diverse careers – men who once wanted to change the world with life-altering technology but have fallen into an obsessive, cat-and-mouse game to one-up each other.
“It was like a dream to put these two back together again,” muses producer Alexandra Milchan. “Their characters couldn’t be more different and yet Harrison and Gary are alike in many ways. They are both equally funny, charming, extremely smart and generous. They both really loved the characters they were playing, even though they are villains, and they both understood the source of their greed and their desire to play God with the universe around them to a certain degree.”
“Harrison walks, talks, and feels like integrity personified – the very ideal of an upstanding American leader like his character, Jock Goddard – which makes his turn to the dark side in `Paranoia’ so compelling,” notes producer William Johnson. “It was equal parts pleasure and terror to watch him seduce and destroy.”
Oldman was drawn right away to the screenplay. “It plays like a thriller, but it’s got a twist that I didn’t see coming,” Oldman notes. More than that, Oldman quickly developed his own personal take on his character, Nicolas Wyatt, as one of the self-made industrialists of the digital era. “I play Nick as a guy who is working-class, self-taught, and a former whiz kid who has a real flair for technology,” he explains. “The character was originally an American but I presented to Robert a trans-Atlantic ex-pat who has found success here. It adds an interesting dynamic to things.”
Wyatt has indeed found success in America, the kind of head-spinning success only the very elite will ever taste, which was a lot of fun for Oldman to jump into. “I said to Robert at one point, ‘you’ve fulfilled all my dreams of driving a Bentley, wearing wonderful suits and stepping out of my own private helicopter,’” Oldman muses.
Oldman was especially thrilled to create the explosive collision between Wyatt and Goddard with Harrison Ford – and he says that Ford took him by surprise. “I was really impressed,” he says. “It’s kind of a different character for him and he did some really fine work.”
Says Ford in turn of Oldman: “I’ve always enjoyed watching Gary no matter what he is doing. Wyatt is a fascinating, bitter, angry character, who believes my character, Goddard, would never be the success he is without him. Working with him made the whole thing great fun.”
Ford was drawn not only to reuniting with Oldman but to the rich themes of “Paranoia.” “I see it as a cautionary tale of a young man led by blind ambition into a trap,” he says.
The filmmakers gave Goddard and Wyatt contrasting, individual styles, right down to their cars. But the real sparks emerged from whenever Oldman and Ford were on set together. “What was interesting to me is that both these great actors are quite unassuming and gentle when you meet them,” observes Luketic. “But as soon as the word action is called they turned into these incredible forces.”
Opening across the Philippines on Oct. 2, “Paranoia” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.